The 1953 version launched the famous Corvette line of Fiberglass automobiles, and GM was hoping for similar success by introducing the Corvair in 1954.
However, the public’s and critics’ assessment of the Corvair was not kind, and GM chose not to go into production with the model. Soon after the show season ended, the car was destroyed; all that remained for history were photographs.
Sixty years later, car enthusiast Mike Terry of Greenwood and master Corvette restorer Brett Henderson from Pendleton, collaborated on re-creating the car. They worked on the car almost every Sunday for four years until March 2015, when it was finally ready for the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance & Ault Park Auto Show in Florida.
The restoration began with a 1954 Corvette donor car, whose pre-existing front fenders, hubcaps and interior dashboard were used. Everything else had to be re-fabricated from photographs.
There was no record of the engine used in the original vehicle so they obtained a 1953 concept one from Steve Kline, another car enthusiast. That 265-cubic-inch V-8 engine with its original carburetor was refurbished and fitted to the engine bay.
The windshield, windows, doors, roof and rear end were custom made, with the most difficult challenge being the trunk lid. More than $6,000 was spent on the Crystal Red Metallic Corvette paint color. The car was finished off with the original push-button door locks.
Since gaining all that exposure at the show, Mike has been trying to respond to all the requests for magazine and newspaper articles, as well as appearances with the car. Scheduled dates include three more Concours events this summer and the Corvette Funfest in Effingham, Ill., and the Corvette homecoming in Kentucky this fall.
The car will be displayed over the winter at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky.
By the way, Mike and Brett were proud to bring home Top Ten and Best Re-creation awards.
Until next time, happy cruising!